2013 in 30 tracks

By Luc Mastenbroek

2013 in 30 tracks

24-12-2013 | 15.57

Looking back, we can say that 2013 was the year of the reissue. William Onyeabor’s synth-funk, Arthur Russell’s perfect pop, Saâda Bonaire’s dark boogie, Michael Boothman’s lovely disco and Penny Penny’s happy house: all music that was almost impossible to find or just super expensive and now available at your local record dealer. If you ever consider starting a record collection, these five LP’s might be the perfect start. Because these records were all released in the eighties and nineties, they could not participate in our tracks of the year overview. Fortunately, there has been released a lot of great new music as well.

30. Jon Hopkins – Open Eye Signal
If a smart guy like Jon Hopkins (former producer of Coldplay, collaborated with Brian Eno) is gonna do techno music, you kinda know it’s going to be well done, but not that’s it would sound this clever.

29. De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig – Space Koibos
Every record they do is received as their comeback, but were they ever gone? I once read that Golden Earring is considered Dutch biggest band – they should really consider it again.

28. Dean Blunt – Demon
Dean Blunt (half of Hype Williams) is an innovator, a guy who makes music that didn’t exist before. This year he released two albums of non-existing pop music.

27. Omar Souleyman – Wenu Wenu
Moment of the year?

26. Oneohtrix Point Never – Zebra
In Zebra there’s no beat, still it clearly resembles a trance record. It’s like The Future Sound of London revisited. 

25. Black Deer – Apex Break
Black Deer AKA DJ Speculator AKA Grackle AKA Willie Burns really, really did it this year. Every release on his label was right on there and his own untitled LP is really something special. But his highlight was Apex Break on L.I.E.S. records – breaking their paradigm of dark, violent house with a lost and peaceful dance jam.

24. Koreless – Never
The fact that his EP got released on Young Turks – home to acts like Pional and The xx – totally makes sense. Though Koreless is just one guy making instrumental, electronic music, it’s above all proper music, full of well-written melodies.

23. Stellar Om Source – Par Amour
Her album was good, but didn’t really capture the energy of her super-powerful all hardware live show. So, listen to Par Amour, it’s a proper rave experiment, but go and see her live after. She can give our faith in live-sets in back.

22. The Knife – Without You My Life Would Be Boring
The Knife managed to get controversial in 2013: not so much for their (very) explicit political lyrics, but their live-not-so-much-live shows. In the end though, their best work was ‘just’ a love song.

21. Pusha T – Numbers on the Boards
Kanye West was without a doubt the most discussed musician of the year, which is why we are not going to do that here. Certainly, he said some cool stuff (‘I understand culture’), made a nice video and built a great show, but his finest work was this beat for Pusha T’s modern classic.

20. Leisure Connection – Wave Riding
If somebody would tell you that the male half of Peaking Lights produced a house record, you would probably imagine something like this. And – you wouldn’t be surprised – this actually is a song by the male half of Peaking Lights, released on Rush Hour’s No-Label. The most fun record of the year; where most tracks make you feel their pain of getting their hats right, Wave Riding makes you feel the joy of playing.

19. Jeri-Jeri – Bamba
You could almost say that Mark Ernestus invented techno music, as part of Basic Channel. And where he could’ve toured the world for the next fifty years as a ‘techno pioneer’, he instead made mbalax album with Senegambian musicians. He’s a good guy.

18. Eefje de Visser – Neejoh
A good Dutch pop record, yes it’s hard to believe. And it’s actually really good, one on the best sounding pop songs of the year. And you can even dance to this one.

17. Juicy J & The Weeknd – One of Those Nights
Though the track is from Juicy’s album, it’s actually Juicy J being a guest on The Weeknd’s track, which is one of his best works yet.
16. Omar-S – I Just Want
When Omar-S makes vocal house, it’s a classic. When Omar-S makes techno full of glittering, MDMA crystals, it’s just as good.

15. Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers – Get Lucky
After the ridiculous (and ridiculously violent) Blurred Lines Pharrell at least had do something to compensate, to confirm his status as pop music’s number one innovator again. He did. After hearing this for the first time I thought that it was good. After twenty times I thought it was really good. After one of These Guys mixed in a techno record at Queensday – still making sense – I thought it was brilliant. And yesterday I heard it again on the radio and thought: it’s getting better and better.

14. Syclops – Jump Bugs
Disco music’s number one weirdo Maurice Fulton produced an EP for his Japanese step-nephew DJ Nori and released an album with his Finish bandmates as Syclops. All in his own world.

13. Maps - I Heard Them Say (Andy Stott remix)
The standout track on John Talabot's extraordinary DJ-Kicks -  ‘a love letter to the warm-up set’.

12. Connan Mockasin – I’m the Man, That Will Find You
A weirdo singing a perfect, simple pop song. I will love you baby. I’m the man that will find you. I will lo-oooove you.

11. Tony G – Simple Dreams (Young Marco remix)
Disco – especially ‘nu-disco’ – was probably the scene where least creativity could be found this year. Young guys declaring themselves crate diggers for finding a pumped up Chic edit on discogs, it never made anything ‘nu’. At the Rush Hour weekender Young Marco showed in three hours what a crate diggers’ set was supposed to be like, with his own remix for Simple Dreams as a highlight. His debut LP will arrive soon next year, expect more Young Marco in 2014.

10. Jagwar Ma – Come Save Me (Pachanga Boys remix)
Accompanied by a super decadent video, this track became the perfect soundtrack for the young, the rich and the bored ones. We have it all, but we don’t know what we want. Come and save me.

9. Joy Orbison - Big Room Tech House DJ Tool - TIP!
That moment. You make me weak, you make it so good sometimes… I just can’t speak. Again and again and again it set clubs on fire.

8. Interstellar Funk – House Train
An eighties Chicago house record turned into a minimal wave rave anthem.

7. Peter Gordon & Factory Floor – Beachcombing
How many elements can fit a track before it becomes too much? Beachcombing, released on Optimo’s imprint, just does it all at once: arpeggios, new age synthesizers, saxophone solos, haunting vocals – it all works.

6. Burial – Come Down To Us
Burial probably doesn’t really like end of year lists. Last year he released one of his best works, Truant/Rough Sleeper, just before the end of the year – when all the lists were already done; this year he’s doing the same with Come Down To Us, a new highlight in his oeuvre. We don’t mind, if it’s necessary we’ll wait till the 31st if that’s what it takes to include the new Burial in our top list.

5. Four Tet – For These Times
When Job Jobse and I did an interview with Four Tet and Caribou four years ago, they were still the weird psychedelic folk guys making their first steps in club music. Now, the fact that Four Tet is ruling dance music like no one doesn’t even seem that strange. Roman Flügel, Cinnaman, Holden, Joy Orbison, Tom Trago – every deejay seemed to play this record, which probably made it Trouw’s most played record of the year.

4. James Blake – Retrograde
Ridiculously perfect pop record – so young, so sad, so good.

3. Barnt – Tunsten
The dj-tool gone dada, a deconstruction of the dancefloor climax. Barnt wasn’t only one of the best and most original deejays of the year; he has also made himself the ultimate weapon.

2. David Bowie – Love Is Lost (James Murphy “Hello Steve Reich” remix)
No one handles irony like James Murphy does. Back in the days with LCD Soundsystem, he wrote the ultimate irony-anthem Losing My Edge, on his only track this year he pays tribute to Steve Reich’s Clapping Music while making David Bowie sound like a grumpy, old dandy (‘love is lost, lost is love’) – something that could’ve only turned out in a gimmick, if it wouldn’t be James Murphy, who has the gimmick in the palm of his hand.

1. Holden – Renata
In our conversation with James Holden, he described his own proper debut LP (The Inheritors, released this year after releasing records since 1999) as ‘a cynical look at a rose-tinted view on the past’. After his seven hour set in May, it was impossible to be cynical. From the first till the last hour Trouw was packed with people that danced all night to records by the likes of Suicide, The Zouk Machine, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Atoms for Peace and La Monte Young. A seven hour manifest against dancefloor cynicism (‘the audience just wants to hear shitty climax tracks to take drugs to and put their hands in the air’). The fact that such a weird, wild and beautiful song like Renata could turn Trouw into a big rave proves the cynics are wrong.
Maurice Fulton (Syclops) will be playing Les Enfants Terribles at the 28th of December.
Young Marco will be playing Trouwens at the 1st of January.
James Holden will be playing Trouw op Zondag at the 25th of January.

Text: Luc Mastenbroek